Dear Mama,

Remember that cookbook Anna was going to get you for Christmas? Whole Grains Every Day Every Way, the one I recommended? Did it ever come in? I hope so—I just used it to make a top-notch pilaf recipe.

I think you have your share of the grain CSA by now—Joe piled it into the back of his pick-up when he was Maine-bound the other day—and I wanted to tell you that I tried an oat recipe. I don't know if you've had a chance to read the CSA handout yet, but the oats this year are different—they're called live oats, and they're hull-less. Apparently they grow without hulls, which means they're easier for the farmers to harvest and easier for us to cook with and clean. Yay!

We tried them in a pilaf recipe yesterday. We had friends coming over and an engagement and a pregnancy to celebrate, and I wanted to make a side that would go nicely with salad and fish. Some people say oat berries cook up similarly to rice, so I figured I'd look them up in the index of the Lorna Sass book and give whatever I found a try. What I found was on page 206: oat pilaf with carrots and thyme. It was delicious! Alex added some extra butter and salt (surprise!) and it needed a slightly longer cooking time than called for, but otherwise we didn't change anything. 

I know you always plan out dinner in the morning, so you probably won't cook this tonight. But I think you'd love it, and Papa would too. Let me know if you give it a try.

Sally says coo, and we miss you.


This makes a nice side dish with fish and salad. We've adapted it slightly from Lorna's version—hers calls for only 1 tablespoon of butter, and we didn't think that was quite enough. 

While we're on the subject of butter—what kind do you buy? We were able to get it through our milk coop for a while, but they stopped making it because they were throwing too much buttermilk away. So then we bought Kate's of Maine, but when I got pregnant I got very careful about eating butter that was pastured. So these days we're buying the Organic Valley pasture butter, which they sell at Whole Foods. It's the best balance I've been able to find between local and healthy, which has become more and more the question I'm asking these days. I'd love to hear what you think.

Back to pilaf! Okay.

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup finely diced onions
1 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 and 1/2 cups whole oat groats, rinsed
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put a kettle of water on to boil.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saut√© until soft, about five minutes. Add the oats and stir until they are coated with butter, then pour the boiling water over top. Add the salt and stir well. 

Cover the Dutch oven and put it in the oven for 35 minutes. Lorna's recipe says the oats should be cooked at this point, but ours weren't. They needed another 10-15 minutes. So just keep checking after this point, adding more boiling water as needed, and pull the pot when they're done. Now stir in the fresh thyme, the remaining butter, and season with more salt and pepper to taste. 

If you're not going to eat right away, toss the pilaf with a fork just like you would rice. Enjoy warm, if not hot.


Anonymous said...

Dear Elspeth,

My goodness, what a sweet post! We have not yet gotten our grain CSA; Joe is bringing it this afternoon. I am already salivating over the oatmeal pancakes that we will make for breakfast tomorrow, from "Good to the Grain." Then I will set my mind to this oat pilaf recipe, which sounds wonderful!

Love to you and Alex and your little dumpling. She just gets cuter by the day!

xo, Mama

Anonymous said...

Finally got around to making this last night. Dee-lish! We will definitely be making this again. ~xo, Mama

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